Millennials hate carrying cash, but when it comes to using plastic, they don’t have much of a thing for credit either.
Their preferred way to pay: debit.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of millennial consumers ages 18 to 29 say they do not have a credit card, according to a study released by Bankrate.com. That is almost double the share of adults over the age of 30 who said they don’t have credit cards. The phone survey, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, polled 1,161 consumers in late July and early August found that 23% of millennials have one credit card, that 6% have two credit cards, and only 2% that have three cards.
Younger consumers prefer debit cards because they have many of the same benefits over hard cash as credit — they eliminate the need for a trip to the ATM and can quickly be replaced if a wallet is stolen. But mostly, young people like debit cards because they dislike debt, says Jeanine Skowronski, a credit card analyst for Bankrate.com.
Already burdened by student loans and burned during the recession, many millennials may be wary of taking on more debt, she says. “They are really worried about getting a credit card, racking up a bill they can’t pay,” Skowronski says.
But being too averse to credit may be a mistake, she says, because having a credit card is one of the easiest ways young consumers can build their credit histories. People who don’t build their scores early on may have a harder time accessing credit later when they need it to buy a car or take out a mortgage. “You need credit to get credit: There’s a catch-22,” Skowronski says.
Some young people may not be avoiding credit cards by choice — it became harder for them to access credit after the recession. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 restricted the ways companies can offer cards to consumers under 21.